Sometimes I think my family is cursed. My mother died an addict at thirty, and my wider family, (aunts uncles, siblings and cousins), are steeped in every kind of problem you can imagine stemming from alcohol and drug use. I’ve also had my own issues with addictive behaviours but that’s not what I want to talk about today.
I’m writing this because I’m the stressed out parent of a teenager going off the rails. Like I said, my family is obviously cursed right!? Every bloody generation this genetic predisposition rears its ugly head!
My son was fine until he hit fourteen, then seemingly overnight my once well behaved little boy was replaced with a monster. His main thing is smoking pot. His interest in this supersedes all other healthy interests a boy his age should have. Do your homework - nah I’d rather smoke pot. Go to school - nah I’d rather wag with my other stoner mates and smoke pot. Get involved in something that doesn’t involve sitting in your sleep-out with the curtains drawn, like a sport or a club activity or something - nah I’d rather smoke pot. What do you want to be in life - I dunno, a stoner?
Now I still have vivid memories of what it was like being fourteen. In fact I remember having a similar love affair with cannabis which eventually led to some really quite serious long term consequences in my life. So there are two predominant schools of thought going through my head 24/7 about my son.
On the one hand I think: no one could tell me anything at that age, I was so pig-headed and stubborn I had to learn my mistakes the hard way. Just give him good advice, let him know you love him and are always there for him and get out of the way. Let him come to his own realisations about life, I tell myself.
However, fear messes with this ‘letting-go’ attitude. No one wants their kid to suffer the same negative things they went through right!? So I try to control his behaviour, which leads to us having huge fights, and at the end of the day achieves diddly-squat in producing any kind of change in his attitudes or behaviour.
Oh no, actually there is a result from us fighting, our normal lines of honest communication become strained and I’m at risk of alienating my son. So what am I trying to say?
I think the rational part of me says just let go, stop trying to control him just be there for him as best as you can, as a loving father. It is less stressful, and keeps me sane.